Floor Systems FAQ

FAQ

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Below are some of our more frequently asked questions

Q: I thought Styrofoam for construction was blue or pink, is this white Styrofoam okay for use in buildings?

A: “Styrofoam” is the trade name owned by Dow for the blue or pink board, product that is made from styrene and gasses that foam and expand it. Its technical name is XPS – Extruded Polystyrene. Our product is EPS – Expanded Polystyrene. EPS is made from styrene as well but uses only heat and steam in the manufacturing process. Both products are used heavily all types of construction.

 

Q: We feel concrete is a much stronger floor, how could this work?

A: Concrete is rigid, heavy, and has a high resistance to compression. When used in your basement floor those same properties cause it to crack, heave, and to leak if base conditions are not exactly perfect (they are not.) The SIC floor systems use steel, insulation, and sheeting to create the same structure and composition as the upper joist floors of your home, with better insulation. Designed to meet the needs of the home, it meets all load requirements without cracks, heaves, or leaks, yet it costs less than concrete. And – it’s warm and dry.

 

Q: My area building codes require floor Radon venting, can your system do this?

A: Yes. And without the extra cost of buried pipes and washed rock that is needed to vent Radon in concrete slab floors. Our universal design has special channels that allow collection and extraction of Radon to code requirements providing simple installation procedures and layouts are followed. No extra cost – just the floor.

 

Q: What happens if we have a flood?

A: Like any flood situation faster draining and cleaning will reduce possible damage and thus repair costs. Sheeting may need to be replaced, however the galvanized steel and EPS in our system is generally unaffected and needs only to be drained and dried before new sheeting and finishes are applied.

 

Q: No concrete on the floor? Is this safe we have never heard of this!

A: It’s better than concrete. Our floor does not crack, does not wick moisture into your basement, and does not require heating to feel warm. It is fully insulated and the structural design we use provides all needed structure and support for a long product life and a comfortable basement living area.

 

Q: If we use this kind of floor system what kind of flooring do I have to use?

A: Anything you wish. Our no-concrete floor system has the same properties as main and upper floor systems used in residential construction. You can use tile, carpet, linoleum, hardwood, or any other flooring suitable for residential construction.

 

 

Q:  Can we use this floor system if we are using ICF or concrete poured foundations?

A: Absolutely, a few minor connection changes are the only difference. No-concrete floors are well suited and easily designed to match any foundation. Be sure that you contact us early to save the tasks and costs you won’t need for our floor.

 

Q: We have been researching energy efficient homes, would this product be a good fit?

A: Yes. Our standard floor system has more insulation than codes require for heated floors, its already more energy efficient. We can also customize floor thickness to provide higher R-Value for Net Zero, Passive-House, and off the grid designs.

 

Q: We are concerned that Styrofoam is not earth friendly.

A: It is Earth Friendly. EPS does not off gas, is totally inert, and is 100% recyclable. The manufacturing process is efficient, the product has one of the highest R-value per dollar energy ratings, and our SIC systems are precut to minimize or eliminate handling, scrap, waste transportation, and landfill issues of other materials. When properly made, used, and delivered it has significantly less energy unit for lifetime install to recovery than almost every other building material

 

Q: We are in a rural area and concerned with construction waste, how do we deal with all the construction waste from the floor system?

A: Easily, it’s in our design. With the proper measurements from you we can reduce or eliminate any scrap by fully precutting to fit your site. Even if you use standard sections the cut on site scrap is minimal. Waste that may be created is just plastic or steel, both materials that are readily recycled or inertly disposed of.

 

Q: How is the floor finished?

A: A tongue and groove construction plywood or OSB is part of the system, screwed onto the steel studs of our supplied sections. This can be left plain for utility areas or after that – your choice. Carpet, linoleum, hardwood, tile, laminates, any floor finish can be used with the same preparation as prescribed for upper level wood floor systems.

 

Q: Do you know anyone that has a Styrofoam floor like this?

A: Yes, I know hundreds of families that do. Our floor system was created in 2008, when the first one went into my house. As a founder of the brand, I myself have confidence in the product and still live on that original floor. Since then, hundreds of systems have been sold and now almost every SICS foundation customer also chooses the no-concrete floor.

 

Q: Is this system approved and accepted by permitting and building codes?

A: Yes, because it works. Building inspectors do have the right to refuse the system if they feel it does not meet local requirements, so we suggest you pre-clear it. We provide a simple information package explaining the system that you can send to your permit office before choosing. It’s been accepted every time.

 

 

Q: Will we have problems getting home insurance?

A: No, you will not. The system meets all codes, regulations, approvals, and permits and exceeds other building systems by its engineered status. In some cases, it can even receive lower insurance rates due to the steel structure classification.

 

Q: Do we have to hire expensive professions to install this floor?

A: No. Regular trades, regular contractors, do-it yourselfers and handyman builders are all easily capable of installing SIC floor. They are installed with simple, easily trainable, and easily guided procedures.

 

Q: Do you have a crew you send to our site to install the floor for us?

A: No, but can send an advisor. Our area coverage and wide variety of buyers and builders benefits from focus on local or owner based installers. The simplicity of the install procedure is best explained by ‘on-site’ advisors training builders with a hands-on process taking only a few hours at your jobsite.

 

Q: We small design with a small basement, how do you think this would work for us?

A: It would work very well. In fact, smaller concrete projects still have the same base cost charges like pump truck minimums and finishing crews wait times that make the per square foot cost of those floors much higher than larger builds. Our system has only per sq foot material and a static cost per sq foot install, you’ll save bigger on the smaller projects, and you can do it yourself to save more.

 

Q: Can we use this for an existing home with a cracked and heaving basement floor that needs to be replaced?

A: Certainly. Replacing a foundation floor is a big project, often made more difficult by the need to work in small spaces and deal with removed concrete. No-concrete floors have advantages in the building process that addresses these needs, and will provide a more efficient end product to extend the life of your home.

 

 

Q: How long do I have to wait? I just found this and am ready to do my floor now.

A: Our foundations need 6 weeks on a typical timeline, as 2-3 weeks for design and engineering then 3 weeks to manufacture and deliver. On projects using our floor and upper wall systems the products after the initial delivery of the foundation are generally available as they are needed to meet building site timelines.

 

Q: Does this SI system have a Warranty or Guarantee?

A: Yes. SIC has a 10-year warranty on the materials and products. Plus, the design of our system includes stamped engineered drawings, a lifetime structural warranty from the Engineer. Note that like most products, these coverages are dependent on and set in motion by inspections done during your build.

 

Q: What is the life expectancy of this kind of foundation?

A: We design for a 100-year house. Both EPS and galvanized steel that make most of the system are materials with historically proven long lifetimes. An understanding of these properties, and our goal of designing to optimize for longevity, gives you a building envelope that will last for your life and future generations.

 

Q: What about mold?

A: EPS and steel studs in our system have no nutritional value, they do not support or benefit the growth of mold in any situation. Our design also eliminates all thermal bridging to reduce or stop any moisture and condensation issues which are one of the root causes of mold in buildings.

 

Q: What is the cost difference between a regular concrete foundation and this foundation?

A: You will save money with our foundation. Every house design has different costs and every builder has different prices for the same house, and the variance of the prices to the owner always comes down to scheduling, labor, and field man hours. SIC foundations save time, shorten schedules, and require less staff or equipment than traditional methods. The superior insulation saves energy to provide savings that continue every day you live in the building for generations to come.

 

Q: Can we purchase this product in other parts of Canada?

A: Yes, or more specifically you can purchase it for other parts of Canada. We are currently designing and manufacturing in Alberta, but will work with you as we have in the past for others to make the product available for builds in any of the provinces or territories. Local engineering, local manufacturing, shipping, remote support, or agreements for installation are all possible with SIC systems. Contact us for a conversation on how we can accommodate your needs.

 

Q: Do you have a manual we can have to review this product?

A: Yes. Though dated and often general rather than specific, we do have manuals for past system versions that will provide an understanding of the tasks required. Our printed manual program lapsed when we began providing install advisors for each project as a more effective and accurate training program. We are working on new manuals and videos that will be available through the website as they are made.

 

Q: How many years has this product been around?

A: It was first started as “Polycore” in 2003, by two partners one of whom is the current owner of SI Construction Systems Ltd. Though there have been some name and partner changes, the product has been used on over 1200 projects.

 

Q: Where is it made?

A: All design and engineering is done in Edmonton Alberta, with manufacturing of the system mostly by contract to a central Alberta EPS production facility. SIC is able to contract manufacturing to other facilities that may be located closer to any particular location if cost savings for the customer are possible.

 

Q: We would really like a walk out foundation can you provide this?

A: Yes, we can. In fact, our walkout design is faster, better, and easier. There is no grade beam required for the walkout wall, a stepped footing allows the SIC wall to be run down to the footing in order to provide a faster install and insulation all the way to the footing for a more energy efficient design.

 

Q: What about deep back fills?

A: Yes. Backfills to the levels in residential construction are easily done with the SIC system. Our engineering specifies the structural needs for deep backfills to ensure the product meets the needs of your specific home design.

 

Q: How do I attach my deck?

A: Decks are generally attached to the edge of the house floor system, and this would be the same method used in our designs. Other methods are also available and our engineering will choose and define the best method for your build.

 

Q: Can I use this kind of floor in my garage too?

A: No, our floor is not suited for vehicle traffic. It will handle the load and the weight of vehicles for short terms, however surface wood sheeting will degrade under the rolling weight and wet/slush road drippings over time.

 

Q: What about different height of footings/ stepped?

A: The SIC system can easily match footing steps and changes that may be required for your design, and it still comes pre-cut to meet these footing changes. In fact it can also be modified where required to meet unexpected footing changes.

 

Q: Do I need to use rebar in the footings?

A: Yes. The size and spacing of the rebar is defined by our engineers and placed to match the structural needs of your building.

 

Q: I would also like to build a single car garage?

A: Certainly, you can use our product for garage wall systems. Whether you require a slab on grade or a footing with below grade wall, our system can be used.

 

Q: Our city has just approved Garden Suites, can I use this product for this application?

A: Yes. The residential and the garage portions of the Garden Suites are both served well by the SIC system, so it can be used for the complete project. In fact, there are many benefits of the system that apply in these types of builds.

 

Q: Can this product be used for the party wall or fire walls required in duplexes or triplexes or multifamily buildings?

A: No. Demising wall systems have special requirements including specific wall test ratings and certifications. SICS has chosen not to pursue such ratings due to a low sales opportunity with a high cost of entry. However, any recognized demise wall systems can be used with our external walls.

 

Q: Does your product burn more toxic than traditional homes that catch fire?

A: The EPS used in our system is a plastic, but it has a fire retardant property which does not allow it to support its own combustion. SIC must be sheeted and covered like insulated concrete forms and other panels systems which are also made from EPS. Like very many products in any home it will produce a level of toxic smoke under fire conditions. However, EPS meets all building codes and regulations that exist to ensure a time for occupants to escape a fire and a time for first responders reach a fire location.

 

Q: My build is very unique, I have an underground garage. Can this product could work for that?

A: It can, or maybe it can’t. We’ll review your plans and see if the SIC system is the best one for that part of your build, it is a standard part of our free evaluation.

 

Q: My commercial building has many build outs and a flat roof could we work together?

A: Yes. Decorative buildouts and insulation for flat or sloped roofing in commercial construction are already typically done with EPS. The SIC system can incorporate these normally separate layers into our designed sections to save cost and provide a better, longer life building envelope.

 

Q: I have heard this kind of home is very air tight?

A: When installed properly, the SIC system will provide an air tightness that exceeds typical framed construction. The better result is, like all construction, determined ultimately by following proper procedures throughout the build.

 

Q: I promised my wife our next home would have in floor heating, could we use traditional in floor heating with your system?

A: Yes. The SIC floor is designed with channels that accommodate in-floor heating pipes or other similar systems. It also incorporates more than the required amount of insulation required for heated floors by energy codes. As a cost saving thought, the insulation and no-concrete qualities of our floor can actually give your home a comfortable basement floor without in floor heating.

 

Q: My electrician said this is very difficult to wire a house using steel studs.

A: This can be true with other systems, but SICS has precut electrical channels that make wiring easier. A horizontal chase runs through all wall studs and each stud is already punched with grommets inserted to meet code. Vertical wire channels are in almost every panel, allowing electric drops and rises as needed.

 

Q: My infill home plan has a roof top deck, is this system strong enough to carry the loads?

A: Yes. Our wall systems are individually designed, we make them to carry whatever loads are required to meet the building or code requirements. The system can also be used for the deck as well.

 

Q: How is Styrofoam a green, earth friendly product?

A: That’s a big question. EPS is not technically Styrofoam (see FAQ#1), but it is the same material and both have a bad rap. EPS is 100% recyclable, has low input of energy/resources when manufactured, has high energy savings for low cost, has no gasses or toxins to pollute soil or air. For the long answer, see my blog HERE.

 

Q: Why are you not using this for all the interior walls as well?

A: Simply put, it’s not needed there. A key feature of our system is insulation value, and interior walls do not need insulation. Wood or steel framing can be used for interior walls at less cost and they meet all the needs for those areas.

 

Q: Explain how to buck the windows. Frame doors

A: Certainly. Our system has structural steel studs on all four sides of all openings. Wood studs (bucks) are screwed to that steel to frame the opening out in order to provide wood for window sealing, mounting, trims, and finishing.

 

Q: All your construction photos show lots of bracing, is this really necessary?

A: During construction SIC walls are light weight, fully exposed, and only partially attached like any sheeted wall being built. Bracing is needed to hold the system in place against any expected winds or weather your site and location could have.

 

Q: With all this insulation value, would this product work well for building a temperature controlled wine cellar?

A: Yes. It can make a stand alone room in an existing house similar to a commercial walk-in cooler, or be included into the wall design build of your new home.

 

Q: Why aren’t all the builders using this?

A: Because its different. Many aspects of new home construction have not changed in decades or longer, and those that have were forced by new regulations or codes to make buildings better. The bigger the builder the more adverse to change. Our system is becoming more prevalent with smaller (1to 5 houses per year) builders as new energy codes are coming into the industry, but change is a slow process.

 

Q: I want custom height walls, could we have say 9′ or 10′ walls rather than the standard 8′?

A: Yes. Foundations, upper floors, garages and shops, or two story entries and open high ceiling vaulted family rooms, all can have any wall height you wish. It’s in the design, and we design what you want.